PCS union set for strike decision
Another public sector union is to announce the result of a strike ballot, bringing nearer the prospect of a co-ordinated walkout by hundreds of thousands of workers.
The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) will announce the result of its strike ballot, with officials expecting a "yes" vote in protest at pension changes, as well as job cuts and a pay freeze.
This follows Tuesday's votes by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) in favour of strike action. The walk-out, planned for June 30, would cause disruption for millions of children at thousands of schools in England and Wales.
A third teaching union, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) will decide later this week whether to ballot members on strike action.
PCS leader Mark Serwotka has warned that up to 750,000 public-sector workers could be taking co-ordinated strike action on June 30, the biggest outbreak of industrial unrest in the public sector for years.
He said: "All the experts who have looked at public-sector pensions, including the Government's own adviser, Lord Hutton, agree they are affordable now and in the future. The Government is isolated in its belief there is a need to cut pensions even further and the only conclusion to draw is that ideology is replacing reality."
Action could continue beyond the summer as Unison general secretary Dave Prentis has warned that 1.2 million local authority, NHS and other public-sector workers are "on the road" to industrial action in the autumn, highlighting a "perfect storm" of pay freezes and lower pensions.
Prime Minister David Cameron's official spokesman said that the level of public sector strikes in the UK remains "low", but said the Government was keeping the question of whether to tighten the law on industrial disputes under review.
The spokesman said: "What we want to do is have a constructive dialogue with the unions. The issue we are talking about at the moment is the issue of pension reform.
"We think it is important to reform public sector pensions. We want to do that in a way that is fair to public sector workers but also fair to the taxpayer and ensures we continue to attract the good teachers people want to see in schools. There's no getting round the fact that we need to reform public sector pensions, because the current system is unsustainable."